Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts and has counseled both students and corporations on hiring practices. She has given hundreds of interviews on the topic for outlets including The New York Times, BBC News, and LinkedIn. Alison founded CareerToolBelt.com and has been an expert in the field for more than 20 years.
How Many Hours Per Week is Part-Time?
There are a few key differences between full-time and part-time jobs. For example, depending on the employer, part-time positions may not qualify for the same perks and benefits as full-time positions. Fewer hours per week typically results in more flexibility, however, allowing you to work additional jobs or invest in your education.
There are no official federal guidelines that determine whether an employee is considered part or full-time. While the Fair Labor Standards Act establishes legally binding requirements for hours, overtime and wages U.S. businesses must follow, this law does not specifically state how many hours per week an employee must work to be considered full-time.
recognizes individuals working at least 35 hours per week as full-time employees, but this number is for statistical purposes only with no legal meaning. Many employers do, however, use this number as a guideline when developing their policies.
Pros and cons of part-time hours
There are many factors to think through before choosing a part-time position. While you should certainly consider the company, role, commute and compensation, it’s also important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages common among part-time positions.
Pros of working part-time hours
Greater flexibility. Part-time jobs are typically more flexible than full-time positions and sometimes allow you to create your own schedule. This is beneficial if you have other obligations such as caring for a loved one, working another job or attending school.
Supplemental income. Part-time jobs are a good source of additional, steady income that can supplement other full or part-time jobs. You might also acquire a part-time job to support your lifestyle while pursuing other goals like starting your own business or going to school.
Cons of working part-time hours
What Is a Part-Time Job?
Generally, a part-time job is one that requires a person to work fewer hours per week than an employee who is considered full-time. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers determine how their employees are classified. That said, there are a variety of ways employers (and the law) can do so.
The definition of a part-time job can vary. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics considers workers who work less than 35 hours a week as part time. However, that’s simply for statistical purposes. The Internal Revenue Service, on the other hand, considers more than 30 hours per week or more than 130 hours a month as full time. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act uses the same 30 hours per week standard as the IRS for eligibility for benefits under the act.
Many employers incorporate a definition of a part-time employee into their company policies, which will designate the number of hours per week part-time employees work. For example, Amazon has three categories it uses to determine which employees are eligible for certain benefits: part-time workers work 20-29 hours; reduced-time employees work 30-39 hours; and full-time employees are those who work 40 or more hours per week.
Part-Time Job Work Schedules
Part-time work schedules vary. When you’re hired for a part-time position, the hours and days you’ll be expected to work may be specified in advance (often through the job posting), or your schedule may be flexible and be set on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis as determined by your employer.
Before agreeing to part-time work, it’s important to understand what is required of the role and if it fits you. Below are some ways to figure out how many hours you’ll be working when you’re hired for a part-time position.
- Review the job posting: Carefully read the job description before you apply for a position. You may be able to tell how flexible the job is, and how many hours and days you are expected to work per week.
- Know your availability: You may be asked when you can work (days/hours) on a job application, so know your availability before you apply. Many employers are flexible and will work around the schedules of students, parents, retirees, and people with other time constraints and commitments.
- Ask during a job interview: If a schedule isn’t mentioned in advance, it’s acceptable to inquire about the work schedule during a job interview if the interviewer doesn’t ask you about your availability first. Have a list of when you’re available (and when you won’t be) to share. Flexibility is always a plus because it makes it easier for the employer to schedule coverage.
What are the disadvantages of working part-time?
Working more or fewer hours than expected
Often, part-time position hours can be unpredictable and cause a potentially erratic work schedule. Because your employer isn’t obligated to provide a set amount of hours, your working hours may fluctuate from week to week. This can cause scheduling challenges or affect your paycheque. Ways to overcome this disadvantage are to find a part-time position with consistent working hours or speak with your supervisor to express your concerns.
Eligibility for benefits
Typically in Canada, part-time employees don’t qualify for health, insurance or company retirement benefits. If you’re working a part-time position and a full-time job, then you are likely covered with your full-time company. However, if you only work part-time, then you can ask your employer about eligibility for healthcare and life insurance or any retirement benefits that may be available. In Canada, all employers must pay into Employment Insurance (EI) and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). These deductions come off of an employee’s paycheque and submitted on your behalf. However, additional benefits are not guaranteed for part-time workers. Be sure to ask about this during your interview process.
Fewer advancement opportunities
While a part-time position can expand your professional network and your transferable skills, the chance of you moving up in a company decreases. Typically, management and supervisory roles require a full-time schedule. This means that unless you work a full 35 to 40 hours a week, they might overlook you for a promotion. If you’re willing to move into a full-time role, have an open and honest discussion with your employer and let them know you’ll consider full-time employment for the right opportunity.
Feeling left out as part of a bigger team
If you enjoy the social aspects of work, then a part-time position may make you feel left out. As a part-time schedule always requires fewer hours than full-time employees, social gatherings and team-building activities may not present themselves as often. This can lead to feeling disconnected within the group. This does not affect everyone equally, and if you’re introverted you may love the part-time relationship with your colleagues. However, it’s important to know that you may feel disconnected if you value socialization and work friends.
Part-time job examples
If you’re interested in working a part-time job, begin by looking at how many hours you want to commit per week and the type of work you want to do. Assess your skills and abilities and then begin your job search by looking on job boards
An administrative assistant offers support within an office environment. Filing, preparing documents, answering emails and data entry are typical aspects of the role. Many organizations hire a part-time administrative assistant during a busy time of the year, during special projects or to cover vacation or extended leave of staff. Administrative assistants may also freelance their services virtually, then known as virtual assistants, allowing even more flexibility of hours and working location.
A bookkeeper maintains financial records for a company or organization. Using either a manual or electronic accounting system, they organize and record payables and receivables, complete bank account reconciliations, write payment cheques and submit tax and other mandatory documents. Bookkeepers may be self-employed and offer their services to other companies or may work for one organization.
A graphic designer creates visual content and collateral for businesses and organizations. The graphic content includes social media posts, advertising materials, product and packaging concepts and print materials. Graphic designers may be self-employed while working on several projects or directly employed by a company, such as an advertising firm.
If you have a fluent understanding of a secondary language, then a part-time role in translation is something to consider. A translator takes written material in one language and translates it into another. Having a sound foundation in a particular area, like medical translation, is in even higher demand. Companies often hire translators to create accurate translations of documents, articles and reports, offering freelancing and project-based work.
A tutor specializes in a particular area of education, such as elementary school, high school, university or college-level subjects. They work individually or with small groups to help students understand the subject and improve their comprehension and grades. A tutor may also provide pre-exam preparation. Tutors work part-time hours in the evenings and on weekends for educational organizations, tutoring businesses or are self-employed.
Writers commonly work part-time, freelance or are self-employed. A writer can work for various industries and organizations to offer content from general articles and novels to precise technical writing. Blogs, magazines, newspapers, social media managers and website developers all hire writers to create unique content and documents. Becoming a writer is an ideal job for someone who wants to work part-time with flexible hours and in any location.